‘Walang kaluluwa:’ Lacson warns DA ‘corruption’ also threatens nat’l security
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday slammed those behind alleged corruption within the Department of Agriculture (DA), saying this not only threatens the country’s food security but also national security.
“There is nothing more basic than food, especially in a pandemic. If corruption infects the Department of Agriculture that should be at the forefront of food security efforts, it goes beyond human conscience,” Lacson said in an interview over dzBB.
“Wala na. Saan pa tayo pupulutin kung ang mga walang kaluluwa, walang konsensya pati pagkain ng ordinaryong Pilipino ‘di papatawarin?” he added.
“May kumita na sa PPE (personal protective equipment), may kumita kung saan-saan, may kumita sa smuggling. Pati ba naman itong pagkain sa hapag-kainan, titirahin pa rin?” he added.
Lacson questioned the seeming tendency of the DA to resort to importation instead of finding more practical alternative solutions, such as redistributing produce from areas where there is a surplus to places where there is a shortage.
“It came to the point that Senate President Vicente Sotto III and I were joking that the DA has become a Department of Importation because it seems all the solutions it can think of are centered on importation,” the senator said.
“Instead of helping local hog and poultry raisers, why insist on importation as the solution? Is it because there is money to be made there?” he added.
Lacson further warned that alleged corruption within the department as well as the lowering of the tariffs could potentially make local hog raisers and those depending on them vulnerable to recruitment by the New People’s Army (NPA).
“It will be easy for the NPA to recruit new members, especially those who go hungry after losing their livelihood and blame government policies for their plight,” Lacson, chairperson of the Senate national defense committee, said.
“This has given the NPA an opportunity to recruit. This will add to our national security problem,” he added.
His criticism comes following the Senate’s investigation into the food security crisis triggered by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak and alleged pork importation anomalies.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 128, which temporarily lowers tariffs on pork imports “to address the existing pork shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates.”
Duterte’s order stemmed from a recommendation of the DA to lower pork import tariffs.
Lacson said the government could lose P5.4 billion in revenues due to the executive order on tariff cuts.
This amount, he added, has yet to take into account the possible misdeclaration, underdeclaration or smuggling of fish and other seafood imports into the country, which he said caused the government to lose more than P1 billion a year since 2015.
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